Myanmar: Online marketplace is diversifying, but cash is still king

A screenshot of online marketplace Kaymu.com.mm.

While various online marketplaces have sprung up to serve the Myanmar market, online payment is still years away.

Erwin Sikma, who runs several online enterprises in Myanmar including Kaymu.com.mm and Shop.com.mm, told Myanmar Business Today that they have “good hopes that in the next one year mobile payment systems and in about two years online systems” will become available in Myanmar.

“The main bottleneck we see is the coordination between the main stakeholders like banks, telcos and payment providers. However, all those parties are rapidly professionalising, also driven by improved regulation,” Sikma said.

“The fact that this trade is conducted via Facebook just shows that a major platform where all the offerings are combined is missing. Facebook stores are mostly unorganised, decentralised and not trustworthy,” he added.

Urbanised locals and the growing expat community need more goods and services, and there is room to sell goods. One advantage of online sales is the ease of price comparison and fairness.

But as these stores start up and gain customers, follow through is still a challenge. Without digital payment systems, cash-on-delivery is still the most common method of payment, and meeting in person to deliver goods is still commonplace.

The lack of card payment makes it difficult to collect a fee, so profiting from online stores is far from straightforward. Some work with stores to distribute their goods, but this is not the only method of doing business.

Data collection is still in its infancy in Myanmar, and any website in Myanmar can stand to do well in this regard. Facebook has the head start, but its data collection methods aren’t as well enforced as in other countries.

For example, official Facebook policy requires users use their real names, but this standard seems to go unenforced in Myanmar. Until this comes to pass, making money through online sales will still be a complicated business.

Source:Content sharing agreement with Myanmar Business Today

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.